Maryland sophomore Hakim Hart, who dropped 32 points a game ago, took an open three with three minutes to go in the first half. The shot flew off the back of the rim, prompting a Clemson defender to rip the rebound out of forward Galin Smith’s hands, leaving Maryland’s big man lying on the ground defeated as the Tigers pressed onwards.
The Tigers had a good look, but came up empty, leaving the Terps with a glimmer of hope.
Hart pulled down the rebound and found senior Darryl Morsell running alongside the Clemson bench. The senior put up the open jumper from the free throw line, but what looked like a promising bucket for the Terps, who scored just 11 points up to that point, died under the rim as an airball, summing up Maryland’s success, or lack thereof, on the night.
In what started and ended as a blowout defeat, Maryland left Littlejohn Coliseum with a 67-51 loss at the hands of the Tigers in the team’s first road game of the season.
“We were about as selfish as one of my teams has ever played,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We got a lot of work to do.”
In their first Power Five game of the season, the Terps totaled just 15 points in the first 20 minutes on 6-for-23 (26%) shooting from the floor, just the fourth time over the last decade that the Terps scored 17 points or less in the first half. The team struggled to control the ball all evening, turning the ball over 10 times before halftime and 15 times on the night.
“It’s more so like a learning lesson,” junior Eric Ayala said. “Our first four games, we kind of breezed through. I think this will resemble how our competition will be in the Big Ten.”
The contest was part of the 22nd annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, an event that hasn’t been kind to the Terps in recent years. The loss on Wednesday dropped Maryland’s record to 1-6 in the challenge since joining the Big Ten in 2014, with the team’s only win coming against Notre Dame last season.
Four Maryland players entered Wednesday’s matchup averaging double digit points, with Ayala leading the way with 15.3. But the scoring trio of lineup of Ayala, Wiggins, Morsell combined for just 18 points on 7-27 shooting from the field.
The Terps surpassed their first half points total just eight minutes into the second half, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 14 on Scott’s eight points in as many minutes.
“We just focused on coming out fighting and trying to chip away at them,” Morsell said. “Working on getting good shots for the team. To be honest, they were tougher than us tonight, mentally and physically.”
Scott was one of the team’s only positives on the night as the sophomore shined on the both ends of the floor in the second half. The Philadelphia native led the team with 11 points in the game and tallied three blocks as well with a charge taken that sparked the Terps’ biggest run of the night.
Ayala secured a quick bucket in the paint while being double-teamed by Tiger defenders with 10 minutes remaining in the second period, cutting the lead to 14 again. On the next Clemson possession, Scott stood his ground in the paint on the opposite side of the court, taking a big hit that sent the ball the other way off a Tigers offensive foul.
The momentum was short lived, however, as the Terps went back to their slow offensive ways, falling short of a comeback and dropping their first game of the season.
“We were just out of sync, we were out of sync all night,” Turgeon said. “We were never really in sync offensively. We got to figure it out before Monday.”
Three things to know
- The Terps struggled from the free-throw line: The Terps drew 13 fouls in the contest, giving themselves a chance to chip away at an ever-growing deficit, but couldn’t find the bottom of the net in that department. The team shot 45.5% from the line after hitting 64.4% in the first four games this season.
- Fast break points were hard to come by. Maryland struggled to create offensive chances off of the fast break due to an inability to cash in on opportunities. The Terps finished with two points this area, a season-low. In its four wins to open the year, Maryland tallied 48 fast break points, including 24 against Saint Peter’s last time out.
- Maryland was cold from beyond the arc. Entering Wednesday’s contest, the Terps were shooting 42.5% from deep, but they failed to keep the momentum against Clemson. With just one made three-pointer in the first half, Maryland ended with just 6 total in the game for 33%. The Tigers, on the other hand, canned 9 of their 20 deep balls in the game that seemed to end every small run the Terps were able to put together.